Sotheby’s sale of Canadian art last week, its first without Ritchie’s, was a strong showing with real excitement for several of the works:
Lake Superior Sketch III, a dramatic Canadian Shield landscape shown above, painted by Group of Seven founder Lawren Harris in the mid-1920s, was sold at auction last night in Toronto by Sotheby’s Canada for $968,500. While not a record for a Harris oil sketch – that was set at $3.51-million one week ago by Heffel auctioneers, also in Toronto – the winning bid for Lake Superior Sketch III easily bested Sotheby’s $300,000 to $500,000 pre-sale estimate for the work.
A 1940 forest scene by West Coast master Emily Carr, right, sold last night for $359,500, just above the oil on paper’s pre-sale estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. British Columbia Landscape didn’t come near the previous record of $520,000, set in 2006 by Sotheby’s, for a Carr oil sketch on paper.
These strong numbers belie the difficult atomosphere of the sale where one observer described the auctioneer’s soliciting of bids like “pulling wings off flies”:
Still, his persistence served to create what Sotheby’s Canada president David Silcox called “a minor miracle.” By the end of the evening, the auctioneer had sold 105 of the 126 lots consigned, grossing a total of $5,291,900, including buyer’s premium (20 per cent on the first $50,000 of the hammer price, 15 per cent on the remainder). Going into the bidding action Sotheby’s had estimated its offerings to be worth $3.5-million-$5.0-million.
A Superior Work of Art (Globe and Mail)
Lawren Harris Sketch Leads Pack at Sotheby’s (Globe and Mail)